The Ghost Path Score

A Middle-Earth Roleplaying Adventure

Episode 1, played March 27

In a smoky tavern in Edoras, an organizer named Jardine had pulled together a crew for the perfect job.

RHONWYN knew horses. She was a rider of Rohan, but not the prosperous part of Rohan. More the poor side of the meadow, she said. She took Jardine’s bankroll and got some riding horses and a couple for packing. They could move 1000 pounds of loot out of the White Mountains.

OTHO was the locksmith. A hobbit, and therefore a natural burglar, she got burned out of her hole by Sharkey’s mob when he ran the Shire. Now she was looking to build up a stake, and for some payback.

BORI son of Ori was the lore man. A dwarf from Erebor, he’d lived all over, collecting tales and exotic artifacts of bygone days. He’d deal with the riddles, the ghosts, the overhanging statues from ages past.

GILES had been a farmer until he experienced every thrill agriculture could offer. Then he kept on farming a while longer. Armed with a scythe, he was the muscle.

JARDINE had two bodyguards, Immer and Jamais, who had been Fighting Uruk-Hai until they lost the war. Now they were Bodyguarding Uruk-Hai. They weren’t going along; tombs had lots of traps and hidden corners, and they weren’t Thinking Uruk-Hai.

Jardine wasn’t going either. Lots of people knew she was trying for this score; she was always watched. If they didn’t want someone else making the score first, she had to remain behind.

The score was simple: the Paths of the Dead. Folk said Aragorn had redeemed all the ghosts down there, but those who tried going down them said different. Fortunately, Jardine had made several knockoffs of the Ring of Beobaras: made of clear glass, they made you invisible to ghosts. Everybody got one.

Bori enthused that the original Ring of Beobaras could do a lot more than hide you from ghosts. Jardine agreed, but she didn’t have the original any more. Someone had seen it and made his move.

She’d bargained a map off the last guy to try the Paths and come back alive. It only had three labels: the first room inside the caves was labelled MUD ROOM. The middle was labelled GRAND GALLERY and the other end of the map was labelled ONWARD. Which he hadn’t gone, apparently, because the map stopped there.

The crew found the doors easily enough; they’d been all but covered by a rock slide, but one corner was still visible down at dwarf level.

The first room was called MUD ROOM because someone else had wiped their boots there. Lots of someones. They’d left behind a long-handled sledgehammer, a shovel and a prybar, all Man-sized. Three doors exited, left, right and straight ahead. All had had their locks, lockplate and all, busted out of the wood.

Otho went left. That room wasn’t muddy, and it had a trickling fountain. Tasting, she pronounced it good. Mighty refreshing, in fact. Rhonwyn watered the horses and put them up there, where they could reach the fountain.

The room after that held a huge wall mirror with steps leading up to it. You couldn’t walk through it into another world, but you could adjust your haircut and see if your waistcoat were buttoned correctly.

That’s where they got jumped by the goblins. Coming from both sides (although not at once, as they didn’t coordinate especially well), there were a lot of the beasties. Giles threw a torch at them, blinding them after so many hours in the dark. Bori and Otho struck while they were blind, and Rhonwyn rode a horse into their midst, qualifying as one of the only subterranean cavalry charges in the history of Middle-Earth. The surviving goblins scattered.

Giles blocked the doors behind them, so the goblins couldn’t hit them from behind.

Pursuing, they ran into a goblin transfixed with terror at the entrance to the Grand Gallery. There was a ghost in front of him, holding him spellbound.

The rings worked; he didn’t see the crew. Except Rhonwyn, who wasn’t wearing hers.

“WHO COMES TO MY TOMB?” the ghost demanded.

Rhonwyn ducked around the corner and put on her ring. The ghost interrogated the goblin, disposed of him in a sorcerous manner, and came looking for Rhonwyn.

Meanwhile, the rest of the crew, rendered invisible by their rings, went on into the Grand Gallery. It featured six tombs, sealed by locked doors. Each was identified in witchsilver, a metal which shone brightly in darkness. Cast a shadow onto the door, and the writing was revealed.

They got into the tomb of Queen Ilandria, which had been already visited. There were broken bits of furniture on the floor. There was also a whopping great heap of coins which someone had piled up and neglected to take – perhaps the goblins. It was surmounted by a black iron helm with curving horns, which was solid and heavy and blocked out all sound when worn. Otho and Bori bagged all the loot and took the helm as well, although Bori didn’t wear it.

The sarcophagus turned out to contain Queen Ilandria, looking pale and perfect. They didn’t steal her garments; it didn’t feel right, somehow. Otho did notice a silvery jewel worked into the coffin lid, but she didn’t steal it.

Soon someone spotted a human bandit lurking in the shadows. There turned out to be several, armored in leather and armed with a variety of weapons. I remind you that this was a burglar crew whose muscle was armed with a farm implement. Taking out the two lookouts, Bori and Otho were able to turn the tables on the rest of the bandits, but they were tougher and cleverer than the goblins. The bandits worked around behind our burglary crew and got their horses. Now they knew there were just four of us.

But Rhonwyn heard the horses neigh uneasily, and the two humans ran back to rescue their horses. Bori and Otho followed. There followed a lengthy game of cat and mouse in the dark; there were eight bandits, but Rhonwyn took off her ring and convinced the ghost, whose name was Beobaras the wizard, that the bandits were tomb robbers.

“TOMB ROBBERS!” he roared in a great voice of outrage. Fortunately, he could only see Rhonwyn, who wasn’t lugging great sacks of treasure.

Beobaras’ ghost tore into the bandits, who broke and fled.

Rhonwyn kept the ghost talking while the rest of the crew tried the tomb of Prince Burrien, which didn’t seem as looty as the Queen’s.

And there matters stand …

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